What Is a Hydrotherapy Pool?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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A hydrotherapy pool is a swimming pool used primarily to treat illness, help with physical therapy, or provide other beneficial treatments to users. There are many types of hydrotherapy treatments, all using the properties of water to benefit clients in someway. A therapy pool can be anything from an icy plunge to a jetted massage tub, depending on the type of treatment offered.

The idea of a hydrotherapy pool is an ancient one; many ancient cultures used ritual and therapy-enhanced bathing as an attempt to cure or treat illness. One of the great historic centers of hydrotherapy is at the pools of Bath, England, a former Roman settlement that has used the natural mineral springs under the town to provide hydrotherapy services for since the first century, AD. The pools at Bath included a series of cold to hot pools called the frigidarium, tepidarium, and calderium, that were meant to cure disease and invigorate the weary by alternate exposure to extreme temperature changes.

One type of hydrotherapy pool common to the modern world is the spa or whirlpool. These small pools use heated water and targeted jets of water to help provide relaxation as well as relief from joint or musculature problems. Spas and whirlpools are frequently found at health spas, gyms, hotels, and even in home versions. They generally sit between one and four people, though much larger versions also exist.


A therapy pool can be used as a part of physical recovery or treatment of an injury. Since moving underwater puts less stress and impact on the joints and tendons while still providing strength-building resistance, many people incorporate a pool into physical therapy. Some pools even have built in underwater treadmills to allow people to slowly regain running or walking strength.

Hydrotherapy pools often have built-in features that aid in underwater massage. Some single-occupant pools include a massage table that can be lowered into the pool from above, to help less mobile users enter the water. A massage-based hydrotherapy pool may also have easily adjustable temperature control and muscle specific jets that can help a masseuse enhance an under water massage.

Humans do not have the monopoly on the hydrotherapy concept. Some pet spas and animal training facilities offer therapy pools for dogs that provide many of the same benefits as human versions. In a doggie hydrotherapy pool, dogs can learn to swim as well as recover from injuries to the joints and bones. Proponents of canine hydrotherapy say the treatment helps improve range of motion and strength after injury without the impact of walking or running.


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